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College Tuition Increases Far Outpace Income Growth over Last 25 Years 

Friday, December 5, 2008

According to the Measuring Up 2008 report (PDF copy) by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, college tuition and fees have increased by 439 percent in the U.S. between 1982 and 2007. Over this same period, median family income rose only 147 percent.

College Bills Rising Faster than Medical Bills

WOW! That means college costs grew almost three times as fast as family income. College costs grew nearly twice as fast as medical care costs, according to the report. If that trend continues, parents may need to start playing the lottery in hopes they can win enough money to pay for their children's college education.

More Debt, Please

And financial aid has not been able to keep up. The poorest families (those in the bottom 20 percent) have seen the net cost of college increase from 39 percent of their income to 55 percent of their income. That is the net cost, so it takes into account financial aid they may have received. That doesn't leave much money for food, rent, and clothing... some other "nice-to-have" items. If this trend continues, college graduates will be leaving school with more and more debt. It may really start to affect the decision of whether college is worth the money or not, if it hasn't already.

No College or College Abroad?

If something does not change, are we headed for a time when college is not really accessible to everyone? Or maybe more and more people will look abroad instead of attending higher-priced private institutions in the U.S. – see the NY Times' article Going Off to College for Less (Passport Required).

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